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East - West imbalance

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  • Mike G
    As recently as 1999, the East was winning 55% of inter-conference games. The West took over and beat the East down to 39% in 2001. The East rebounded to 45%
    Message 1 of 9 , Jul 9, 2003
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      As recently as 1999, the East was winning 55% of inter-conference
      games. The West took over and beat the East down to 39% in 2001.
      The East rebounded to 45% in '02, and then dropped back to .405 this
      last season.

      What kind of forces create this situation? It doesn't seem as though
      it can be good for the game. Does it naturally balance out? Or can
      free-agency cause a rush of stars to a 'major league' conference,
      worsening the disparity?

      Looking back at 1999, here were my top Western players - and a (non-
      quantitative) comparison with their 2003 level:

      Shaquille O'Neal - equal to his former self
      Karl Malone - slightly slowed
      Tim Duncan - improved
      David Robinson - at the end
      Kevin Garnett - better
      Hakeem Olajuwon - gone
      Jason Kidd - gone East
      Charles Barkley - gone
      Gary Payton - gone East
      Antonio McDyess - missing
      Chris Webber - improved
      John Stockton - at the end
      Arvidas Sabonis - ditto
      Shareef AbdurRahim - gone East
      Tom Gugliotta - near the end
      Kobe Bryant - much improved
      Gary Trent - somewhere
      Detlef Schrempf - gone
      Vlade Divac - a bit slowed
      Danny Fortson - in and out
      Michael Finley - same
      Clifford Robinson - gone East
      Shawn Bradley - slowed
      Scottie Pippen - near the end
      Jeff Hornacek - gone
      Brian Grant - gone East
      Rasheed Wallace - improved
      Joe Smith - fading

      Naturally, the best players from 1999 will tend to be worse in 2003.
      Yet the West's best don't seem to have fared too badly.

      Check out the East:

      Alonzo Mourning - missing
      Shawn Kemp - near the end
      Grant Hill - broke
      Allen Iverson - same
      Darrell Armstrong - washed up
      Patrick Ewing - gone
      Tim Hardaway - gone
      Rod Strickland - washed up
      Tony Kukoc - slowed
      Keith VanHorn - slowed
      Glenn Robinson - slowing
      Dikembe Mutombo - washed up
      Vince Carter - slowed
      Rik Smits - gone
      Steve Smith - gone West
      Ray Allen - gone West
      Antoine Walker - slowed
      Paul Pierce - fast rising
      Juwan Howard - gone West
      Anfernee Hardaway - gone West
      Tracy McGrady - fast rising
      Brevin Knight - gone West
      Reggie Miller - near the end
      Derrick Coleman - same
      Theo Ratliff - same
      Matt Geiger - gone
      Mookie Blaylock - gone

      McGrady and Pierce are the only bright spots here.

      Of course, we can look at the best players of 2003, and where they
      were in 1999. When I have time..
    • Michael Tamada
      ... From: Mike G [mailto:msg_53@hotmail.com] Sent: Wed 7/9/2003 10:11 PM As recently as 1999, the East was winning 55% of inter-conference games. The West
      Message 2 of 9 , Jul 9, 2003
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        -----Original Message-----
        From: Mike G [mailto:msg_53@...]
        Sent: Wed 7/9/2003 10:11 PM

        As recently as 1999, the East was winning 55% of inter-conference
        games. The West took over and beat the East down to 39% in 2001.
        The East rebounded to 45% in '02, and then dropped back to .405 this
        last season.

        What kind of forces create this situation? It doesn't seem as though
        it can be good for the game. Does it naturally balance out? Or can
        free-agency cause a rush of stars to a 'major league' conference,
        worsening the disparity?


        ***
        Someone, it might've been Gary Scott Simon in rec.sport.basketball.pro, posted a
        time series of East-West w-l percentages going back decades. The pendulum has
        swung back and forth so I don't think we're seeing anything new.

        The other caution: remember around December of this season when the East
        had a winning percentage against the West? There was a small flurry of postings
        here about that, but my reaction at the time was that it could be an artifact of
        small sample size. Which it turned out to be; by the end of the season things
        were where we expected them to be, with a solid Western advantage.

        We can't quite use the small sample size argument with entire seasons since
        they arguably represent an entire population, not a sample. But the argument
        in a sense still applies: 3 or 4 years of conference imbalance is not that big a
        deal. In fact we have to expect a certain amount of autocorrelation (imbalances
        tending to persist from year to year).

        At what point should we worry? I don't know, but I'd say at least 5 or 6 years.
        Also, at what degree of imbalance? Again I don't know; the 40% winning
        percentages are pretty worrisome and bothersome, but 45% (or 55%) is something
        which I think I'd tolerate for quite a long number of years without worrying too much,
        because it's so close to 50%.


        --MKT
      • igor eduardo küpfer
        ... From: Mike G To: Sent: Thursday, July 10, 2003 1:11 AM Subject: [APBR_analysis] East - West
        Message 3 of 9 , Jul 9, 2003
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          ----- Original Message -----
          From: "Mike G" <msg_53@...>
          To: <APBR_analysis@yahoogroups.com>
          Sent: Thursday, July 10, 2003 1:11 AM
          Subject: [APBR_analysis] East - West imbalance


          > As recently as 1999, the East was winning 55% of inter-conference
          > games. The West took over and beat the East down to 39% in 2001.
          > The East rebounded to 45% in '02, and then dropped back to .405 this
          > last season.
          >
          > What kind of forces create this situation? It doesn't seem as though
          > it can be good for the game. Does it naturally balance out? Or can
          > free-agency cause a rush of stars to a 'major league' conference,
          > worsening the disparity?
          >

          One of the things that rarely gets mentioned is that the West, in addition
          to having the team's with the best records, also has the teams with the
          _worst_ records. In other words, the disparity between best and worst in the
          West is greater than that in the East, where teams tend to cluster tightly
          around the average. This has been the pattern for more than a decade. You
          can kind of see it if you look at the standard deviations of winning
          percentages from both conferences -- the higher the standard deviation, the
          greater the disparity with the conference between best and worse.

          Decade Conference N Mean StDev
          1940 E 16 0.4706 0.1639
          1940 W 15 0.5311 0.1546

          1950 C 5 0.6118 0.1516
          1950 E 47 0.5098 0.1324
          1950 W 45 0.4742 0.1236

          1960 E 46 0.5524 0.1592
          1960 W 51 0.4527 0.1350

          1970 E 90 0.4839 0.1384
          1970 W 94 0.5154 0.1209

          1980 E 111 0.5134 0.1527
          1980 W 120 0.4876 0.1434

          1990 E 143 0.5002 0.1533
          1990 W 135 0.4999 0.1827

          2000 E 60 0.4740 0.1278
          2000 W 56 0.5279 0.1642

          I don't see that anything has to be done -- the disparity between
          conferences looks greater than it actually is because people have a tendency
          to look at the extremes (the best teams, the worst teams, the finalists,
          etc.) and ignore the entire range of variation.
        • Mike G
          ... wrote: remember around December of this season when the East ... flurry of postings ... could be an artifact of ... the season things ... advantage.
          Message 4 of 9 , Jul 10, 2003
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            --- In APBR_analysis@yahoogroups.com, "Michael Tamada" <tamada@o...>
            wrote:
            remember around December of this season when the East
            > had a winning percentage against the West? There was a small
            flurry of postings
            > here about that, but my reaction at the time was that it
            could be an artifact of
            > small sample size. Which it turned out to be; by the end of
            the season things
            > were where we expected them to be, with a solid Western
            advantage.

            Perhaps it was hoping against hope, but it looked like a serious
            trend dating back a full year.

            The 2001-02 season started like the one before, with the West winning
            over 60% of interconference games. As the season wore on, the East
            slowly gained and finished at .448

            The sub-.500 difference had been cut in half, from the previous year.

            It wasn't unreasonable to suppose the 'pendulum' might bring the
            conferences back to parity by this (2002-03) season.

            The latest posting I (facetiously) made regarding the early East
            surge had them at 24-14, on Nov. 11. Coincidentally, I recall Shaq
            returning about that time, and the rest of the West picked up the
            pace.

            To have finished the year at 171-251, the East went 147-237 the rest
            of the way, or .380

            That is really bad.

            No team typified this season more than the Pacers, who actually
            drubbed the then-undefeated Mavericks, and then shortly thereafter
            foundered for the season. They could only beat the cellar-dwellers
            in the West, some of the time.


            > ... the 40% winning
            > percentages are pretty worrisome and bothersome,

            And one reason I hate it is that stats may have to be adjusted to
            account for the great imbalance in competition. Something for the
            future, I guess.
          • ankurvdesai
            How do you know that the worst west teams are the worst teams in the league? isn t it possible that their records are only worse than those of the east because
            Message 5 of 9 , Aug 7 2:48 PM
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              How do you know that the worst west teams are the worst teams in the
              league? isn't it possible that their records are only worse than
              those of the east because they have to play the west juggernauts more
              often? i think you'd have to have more detailed team-by-team record
              data to make an assertion like the one in this post.


              --- In APBR_analysis@yahoogroups.com, igor eduardo küpfer
              <igorkupfer@r...> wrote:
              >
              > ----- Original Message -----
              > From: "Mike G" <msg_53@h...>
              > To: <APBR_analysis@yahoogroups.com>
              > Sent: Thursday, July 10, 2003 1:11 AM
              > Subject: [APBR_analysis] East - West imbalance
              >
              >
              > > As recently as 1999, the East was winning 55% of inter-conference
              > > games. The West took over and beat the East down to 39% in 2001.
              > > The East rebounded to 45% in '02, and then dropped back to .405
              this
              > > last season.
              > >
              > > What kind of forces create this situation? It doesn't seem as
              though
              > > it can be good for the game. Does it naturally balance out? Or
              can
              > > free-agency cause a rush of stars to a 'major league' conference,
              > > worsening the disparity?
              > >
              >
              > One of the things that rarely gets mentioned is that the West, in
              addition
              > to having the team's with the best records, also has the teams with
              the
              > _worst_ records. In other words, the disparity between best and
              worst in the
              > West is greater than that in the East, where teams tend to cluster
              tightly
              > around the average. This has been the pattern for more than a
              decade. You
              > can kind of see it if you look at the standard deviations of winning
              > percentages from both conferences -- the higher the standard
              deviation, the
              > greater the disparity with the conference between best and worse.
              >
              > Decade Conference N Mean StDev
              > 1940 E 16 0.4706 0.1639
              > 1940 W 15 0.5311 0.1546
              >
              > 1950 C 5 0.6118 0.1516
              > 1950 E 47 0.5098 0.1324
              > 1950 W 45 0.4742 0.1236
              >
              > 1960 E 46 0.5524 0.1592
              > 1960 W 51 0.4527 0.1350
              >
              > 1970 E 90 0.4839 0.1384
              > 1970 W 94 0.5154 0.1209
              >
              > 1980 E 111 0.5134 0.1527
              > 1980 W 120 0.4876 0.1434
              >
              > 1990 E 143 0.5002 0.1533
              > 1990 W 135 0.4999 0.1827
              >
              > 2000 E 60 0.4740 0.1278
              > 2000 W 56 0.5279 0.1642
              >
              > I don't see that anything has to be done -- the disparity between
              > conferences looks greater than it actually is because people have a
              tendency
              > to look at the extremes (the best teams, the worst teams, the
              finalists,
              > etc.) and ignore the entire range of variation.
            • igor eduardo küpfer
              ... From: ankurvdesai To: APBR_analysis@yahoogroups.com Sent: Thursday, August 07, 2003 5:48 PM Subject: [APBR_analysis] Re: East - West imbalance How do you
              Message 6 of 9 , Aug 7 2:54 PM
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                ----- Original Message -----
                Sent: Thursday, August 07, 2003 5:48 PM
                Subject: [APBR_analysis] Re: East - West imbalance

                How do you know that the worst west teams are the worst teams in the
                league? isn't it possible that their records are only worse than
                those of the east because they have to play the west juggernauts more
                often? i think you'd have to have more detailed team-by-team record
                data to make an assertion like the one in this post.

                I was looking only at interconference records. The worst teams in the West had worse records against East teams than the worst East teams had against Western teams.
                 
                ed
              • wimpds
                In any event, the biggest problem is that all the best teams are in the West. The NBA finals have become completely anticlimactic. We already know that the
                Message 7 of 9 , Aug 7 3:49 PM
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                  In any event, the biggest problem is that all the best teams are in
                  the West. The NBA finals have become completely anticlimactic. We
                  already know that the top 5 teams will be from the West next year.


                  --- In APBR_analysis@yahoogroups.com, "ankurvdesai"
                  <ankurvdesai@y...> wrote:
                  > How do you know that the worst west teams are the worst teams in
                  the
                  > league? isn't it possible that their records are only worse than
                  > those of the east because they have to play the west juggernauts
                  more
                  > often? i think you'd have to have more detailed team-by-team
                  record
                  > data to make an assertion like the one in this post.
                  >
                  >
                  > --- In APBR_analysis@yahoogroups.com, igor eduardo küpfer
                  > <igorkupfer@r...> wrote:
                  > >
                  > > ----- Original Message -----
                  > > From: "Mike G" <msg_53@h...>
                  > > To: <APBR_analysis@yahoogroups.com>
                  > > Sent: Thursday, July 10, 2003 1:11 AM
                  > > Subject: [APBR_analysis] East - West imbalance
                  > >
                  > >
                  > > > As recently as 1999, the East was winning 55% of inter-
                  conference
                  > > > games. The West took over and beat the East down to 39% in
                  2001.
                  > > > The East rebounded to 45% in '02, and then dropped back
                  to .405
                  > this
                  > > > last season.
                  > > >
                  > > > What kind of forces create this situation? It doesn't seem as
                  > though
                  > > > it can be good for the game. Does it naturally balance out?
                  Or
                  > can
                  > > > free-agency cause a rush of stars to a 'major league'
                  conference,
                  > > > worsening the disparity?
                  > > >
                  > >
                  > > One of the things that rarely gets mentioned is that the West,
                  in
                  > addition
                  > > to having the team's with the best records, also has the teams
                  with
                  > the
                  > > _worst_ records. In other words, the disparity between best and
                  > worst in the
                  > > West is greater than that in the East, where teams tend to
                  cluster
                  > tightly
                  > > around the average. This has been the pattern for more than a
                  > decade. You
                  > > can kind of see it if you look at the standard deviations of
                  winning
                  > > percentages from both conferences -- the higher the standard
                  > deviation, the
                  > > greater the disparity with the conference between best and worse.
                  > >
                  > > Decade Conference N Mean StDev
                  > > 1940 E 16 0.4706 0.1639
                  > > 1940 W 15 0.5311 0.1546
                  > >
                  > > 1950 C 5 0.6118 0.1516
                  > > 1950 E 47 0.5098 0.1324
                  > > 1950 W 45 0.4742 0.1236
                  > >
                  > > 1960 E 46 0.5524 0.1592
                  > > 1960 W 51 0.4527 0.1350
                  > >
                  > > 1970 E 90 0.4839 0.1384
                  > > 1970 W 94 0.5154 0.1209
                  > >
                  > > 1980 E 111 0.5134 0.1527
                  > > 1980 W 120 0.4876 0.1434
                  > >
                  > > 1990 E 143 0.5002 0.1533
                  > > 1990 W 135 0.4999 0.1827
                  > >
                  > > 2000 E 60 0.4740 0.1278
                  > > 2000 W 56 0.5279 0.1642
                  > >
                  > > I don't see that anything has to be done -- the disparity between
                  > > conferences looks greater than it actually is because people
                  have a
                  > tendency
                  > > to look at the extremes (the best teams, the worst teams, the
                  > finalists,
                  > > etc.) and ignore the entire range of variation.
                • Dean Oliver
                  ... the ... more ... record ... the West had worse records against East teams than the worst East teams had against Western teams. Note that Sagarin and Massey
                  Message 8 of 9 , Aug 7 3:55 PM
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                    --- In APBR_analysis@yahoogroups.com, igor eduardo küpfer
                    <igorkupfer@r...> wrote:
                    >
                    > ----- Original Message -----
                    > From: ankurvdesai
                    > To: APBR_analysis@yahoogroups.com
                    > Sent: Thursday, August 07, 2003 5:48 PM
                    > Subject: [APBR_analysis] Re: East - West imbalance
                    >
                    >
                    > How do you know that the worst west teams are the worst teams in
                    the
                    > league? isn't it possible that their records are only worse than
                    > those of the east because they have to play the west juggernauts
                    more
                    > often? i think you'd have to have more detailed team-by-team
                    record
                    > data to make an assertion like the one in this post.
                    >
                    >
                    > I was looking only at interconference records. The worst teams in
                    the West had worse records against East teams than the worst East
                    teams had against Western teams.

                    Note that Sagarin and Massey both put out ratings of NBA teams, too,
                    accounting for strength of schedule. The below have playoffs also
                    factored in.

                    http://www.masseyratings.com/rate/nba-m.htm

                    Rank Team Power
                    1 San Antonio 1.9
                    2 Sacramento 1.671
                    3 Dallas 1.407
                    4 LA Lakers 1.141
                    5 Minnesota 0.867
                    6 New Jersey 0.85
                    7 Portland 0.79
                    8 Utah 0.507
                    9 Philadelphia 0.479
                    10 Detroit 0.387
                    11 New Orleans 0.359
                    12 Phoenix 0.329
                    13 Houston 0.281
                    14 Indiana 0.153
                    15 Seattle 0.084
                    16 Milwaukee 0.042
                    17 Boston 0.014
                    18 Orlando -0.006
                    19 Golden State -0.105
                    20 New York -0.241
                    21 Washington -0.475
                    22 Atlanta -0.504
                    23 Memphis -0.849
                    24 Chicago -0.945
                    25 LA Clippers -1.031
                    26 Miami -1.43
                    27 Toronto -1.514
                    28 Denver -2.047
                    29 Cleveland -2.116



                    http://www.usatoday.com/sports/sagarin/nba0203.htm
                    (This is Sagarin's combined rating, which he actually doesn't like as
                    much as his Predictor, which ranks Dallas at the top. He had a fit a
                    couple years ago when the BCS said you can't consider point
                    difference in ranking teams if you want to be part of the rating
                    system. Frankly, neither side did it right. Point difference is
                    relevant up to a certain theoretical cutoff, but Sagarin's work can't
                    deal with it and the BCS just had political motivations. Sagarin's
                    work still is good...)

                    Rank Team Power
                    1 San Antonio Spurs 97.95
                    2 Sacramento Kings 97.17
                    3 Dallas Mavericks 96.99
                    4 Los Angeles Lakers 94.58
                    5 Portland Trail Blazers 93.93
                    6 New Jersey Nets 93.92
                    7 Minnesota Timberwolves 93.43
                    8 Utah Jazz 92.54
                    9 Detroit Pistons 92.04
                    10 Philadelphia 76ers 91.95
                    11 Phoenix Suns 91.57
                    12 Houston Rockets 91.51
                    13 New Orleans Hornets 91.35
                    14 Indiana Pacers 91.2
                    15 Seattle SuperSonics 90.56
                    16 Boston Celtics 90.21
                    17 Milwaukee Bucks 89.78
                    18 Orlando Magic 89.72
                    19 Golden State Warriors 89.55
                    20 New York Knicks 88.52
                    21 Washington Wizards 87.84
                    22 Atlanta Hawks 86.96
                    23 Memphis Grizzlies 86.71
                    24 Los Angeles Clippers 85.82
                    25 Chicago Bulls 85.45
                    26 Miami Heat 83.71
                    27 Toronto Raptors 83.24
                    28 Denver Nuggets 81.63
                    29 Cleveland Cavaliers 80.19

                    DeanO
                  • John Hollinger
                    I studied this very topic each of the past two years. In 2001-02 playing in the East was worth about a game in the standings for most teams, in 2002-03 it was
                    Message 9 of 9 , Aug 8 3:36 PM
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                      I studied this very topic each of the past two years. In 2001-02
                      playing in the East was worth about a game in the standings for most
                      teams, in 2002-03 it was worth closer to two games. This might be
                      smaller than people imagine, but the reason is that regardless of
                      which league a team plays in, 56 of the games will be exactly the
                      same.



                      --- In APBR_analysis@yahoogroups.com, igor eduardo küpfer
                      <igorkupfer@r...> wrote:
                      >
                      > ----- Original Message -----
                      > From: ankurvdesai
                      > To: APBR_analysis@yahoogroups.com
                      > Sent: Thursday, August 07, 2003 5:48 PM
                      > Subject: [APBR_analysis] Re: East - West imbalance
                      >
                      >
                      > How do you know that the worst west teams are the worst teams in
                      the
                      > league? isn't it possible that their records are only worse than
                      > those of the east because they have to play the west juggernauts
                      more
                      > often? i think you'd have to have more detailed team-by-team
                      record
                      > data to make an assertion like the one in this post.
                      >
                      >
                      > I was looking only at interconference records. The worst teams in
                      the West had worse records against East teams than the worst East
                      teams had against Western teams.
                      >
                      > ed
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